St. Anthony of Padua, Priest & Doctor of the Church
2 Corinthians 1:18-22 + Matthew 5:13-16
June 13, 2017
“‘But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?’”
Yesterday at weekday Mass we began hearing from the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in the fifth through seventh chapters of the Gospel account of Saint Matthew (5:3—7:27). In today’s passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls His disciples “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. Either of these could serve you as the basis for a long period of meditation. But consider just one aspect of what Jesus sets before you today.
Salt has long been used as a preservative of food. So one might be tempted to consider Jesus’ image of “the salt of the earth” as meaning that Christians are called to preserve life. In other words, Christians are called to preserve what we already have. But the subsequent words of Jesus suggest otherwise.
Jesus speaks of salt in terms of its taste, as a seasoning. As most of us know, salt isn’t meant to be tasted by itself. Most of us would be repulsed by even the idea of putting a spoonful of salt in our mouths. But it’s common to sprinkle salt liberally on one’s food in order to bring out the taste within the food.
Here we can reflect on Jesus’ image in terms of our own discipleship. If Jesus’ disciples are “the salt of the earth”, Jesus is complimenting “the earth”. There is value—taste—in the world because it was created by God. Even though the world that we live in is fallen, our role as disciples involves bringing out what is good in God’s creation—cultivating that good—so that it might be elevated by God’s supernatural grace.